Burberry is seeking injunctive relief and damages as a result of J.C. Penney’s “willful misappropriation of its famous and distinctive Burberry check trademarks for its own gain.” Burberry, which introduced the famous check in the Twenties, said it’s devoted “substantial resources on promoting its proprietary trademark around the world and offering the check on scarf coats and jackets.”
J.C. Penney allegedly sold products with the infringing trademark without Burberry’s permission and the British company contends this has resulted in confusion among consumers, who mistakenly believe that the J.C. Penney’s products are connected to Burberry, or that the infringing items sold and promoted are genuine Burberry products.
A spokeswoman for J.C. Penney said the retailer doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
As a result of its widespread use, the Burberry check trademarks have “a secondary meaning and have come to be known as a source identifier for authentic Burberry merchandise,” the company said in the lawsuit.
Burberry accuses J.C. Penney’s of distributing or selling apparel, including the infringing products, through its department stores nationwide and e-commerce site. The Levy Group, a New York-based maker of men’s and women’s outerwear and tailored clothing, supplied the merchandise with the ersatz check, according to the lawsuit.
Among the infringing items J.C. Penney’s is accused of selling are a scarf coat that features an “exact copy” of the Burberry check and a quilted jacket with the same check. Although the infringing products are of inferior quality, they appear to be similar to genuine Burberry products.
Burberry is seeking up to $2 million for each trademark that was counterfeited and infringed, among other damages.
Other brands have successfully defended their trademarks. The Ermenegildo Zegna Group in January had a trademark victory in China. The Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court has determined that the Guangzhou Fuyin Co. should cease infringing the trademarks of the Italian men’s wear powerhouse and should pay damages of two million yuan, or about $309,000 at current exchange.